Voters in Japan have taken an historic political
leap. They threw out the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for
only the second time since that center-right party
was formed shortly after World War II. And they gave the opposition
a landslide victory that will make its leader,
Yukio Hatoyama, the new prime minister.
(NPR August 30, 2009)
In the 2005 election, the Liberal Democratic Party fielded
a large number of "assassins," particularly
women, to oust LDP incumbents who opposed then
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's plan to privatize
the postal services.
The DPJ on Sunday mirrored Koizumi's tactic by fielding 46
women, many against big-name ruling coalition politicians.
The strategy proved successful.
Another shift seen in the election concerned the issue of
candidates who "inherit" constituencies
from their relatives.
Amid growing criticism over the practice, only 75 of the 133
"hereditary candidates" from both
the LDP and the DPJ won seats.
Hatoyama told reporters he wanted to wrap up talks quickly
on forming a coalition with the two parties.
Referring to differences the DPJ has with the other parties
on national security policy, Hatoyama said: "They
are not hurdles that cannot be overcome through extensive
discussions. I am not very concerned about that."
When asked what posts he would give to leading DPJ figures,
such as Secretary-General Katsuya Okada and
the two acting presidents, Ichiro Ozawa and
Naoto Kan, Hatoyama said: "I want them to continue playing
central roles. I want them to perform their duties in a manner
that will allow for all of our wonderful colleagues to fully
exercise their abilities."
One change on the horizon may be the renegotiation of a deal
with Washington to relocate the United States Marine
Corps' Futenma airfield, on the island of Okinawa.
Many island residents want to evict the base altogether.
The Democrats, who opposed the American-led war in Iraq,
have also said they may end the Japanese Navy's refueling
of American and allied warships in the Indian Ocean.
Political analysts expect Japan to remain a close American
ally, but one that is more assertive and less
willing to follow Washington's lead automatically.
(The New York Times 8/31/2009)
▼Louisa Lim(NPR reporter in Tokyo)のラジオレポート
Well, voters were just desperate for change. I mean,
they are very angry and frustrated with the LDP's policies,
and they wanted to use the ballot box to let them know. And
when I asked voters why they weren't voting for the LDP, the
answers that they came up with most often were because they
were worried about the growing rich-poor divide.
They were worried about unemployment, which is at a post-war
high, and they were concerned about the welfare system
and the future of this rapidly aging society.
If you think about it, Japan's the only developed economy
which has, on average, shrank over the past 20 years. And
people have seen their lives getting worse, and they
blame the LDP, which has been in power for so long. So they
just simply didn't want to put up with it anymore.
(NPR August 30, 2009)
※少子高齢化： a low birthrate and an aging population など
格差： 一言でうまく相当する英語の言葉は見当たらないが上記のほか、income disparity, widening